Home > The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(5)

The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(5)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

“There,” she heard him say softly in her ear. “That’s better, don’t you think?”

Marabeth couldn’t think. She was too aware of this man’s body and the heat emanating from him and heating up her bones. She trembled as one arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her more firmly against him as he settled her for riding. His other arm took the reigns and the horse responded immediately to his unspoken command.

She could feel the muscles in his legs against the backs of hers and she wanted to reach down with her hands and verify with her fingertips that the muscles were flesh and blood and not hard steel. But she didn’t dare. She kept her hands locked in front of her on the saddle horn, terrified that any movement of her body would give away her feelings to this mysterious man.

“Relax,” he said and his arm around her waist tightened slightly as if to reassure her. But it didn’t. It only made her aware of his arm on her stomach where no man had ever touched. Then her mind drifted to the strong chest against her back and the shivers started up again.

It seemed like an eternity before they finally reached the stables. Max was leaning against the stable fence talking with one of the horse trainers. Marabeth noticed that his eyes narrowed slightly when he saw the two of them riding into the stable yard. He walked up and immediately reached up to lift her down from Sam’s horse.

“What happened out there? I’ve never seen you fall before.”

“Oh, just not paying attention to Beauty,” Marabeth said, smiling slightly for her brother’s sake, then moving off towards the stable to see to her horse.

Sam climbed down from the stallion and watched Marabeth walk away. He was grateful to her horse for riding off. He had the opportunity to hold that incredible beauty close to him and he’d definitely felt her trembling in his arms. He wanted her. And what was more important, she wanted him. Sam was experienced enough to know the difference between sexual tension and fear. She’d been aware of every move of his body, just as he had been of hers.

They would be good together, he thought with satisfaction.

He was slightly concerned because she was a princess and he respected her title and the position she held within the government. But the woman had been engaged to another man. She understood what the world was really all about.

“She’s usually not that clumsy,” Max said, also watching Marabeth walk into the dimly lit stable and disappear into Beauty’s paddock. “I’m not sure what happened out there, but thanks for giving her a ride back,” he said to Sam.

“No problem,” Sam said and turned to start unsaddling his own horse.

“Leave that for Jimbo,” Max said, waiving to a man who was running towards the big horse with a carrot in both hands. “We have more details to discuss.” Sam nodded and passed the horse off to the professional trainer, then followed behind Max.

Chapter 2

Marabeth stayed low for several days. After two embarrassing interludes with Sam, and some very curious feelings she didn’t want to explore too deeply, Marabeth was grateful for the busy routine that kept her rushing from one appointment to another as she made personal appearances.

“Stacy, are we ready for the party?” Marabeth asked, talking to the director of the palace day care. It was a relatively small area within the palace where the staff members could bring their children during the day and be assured of quality care. Marabeth stopped by the center at least once a week to read stories with the children or to fill in for a teacher during an emergency. Marabeth loved this area of the palace. It grounded her in a way that nothing else could. The children here were all too small to understand titles or politics or obligations. They wanted hugs and kisses and funny stories or someone to play with. Occasionally, they needed a kiss on a scratch or a bruise and didn’t care who gave it to them, as long as their arms were gentle around them.

Marabeth organized parties for the children on special occasions. Right now, it was Valentine’s day and there were already decorations up around the room with hearts and dangling cupids hanging from the ceiling. There was pink lemonade and a large cake in the shape of a heart. Marabeth had arranged to have a clown suit delivered and one of the teachers was going to dress up as the clown and deliver heart shaped-helium balloons. The kids were all very excited and the feeling was contagious.

“Oh, your highness. Thank goodness you’re here,” Stacy said, carrying a small infant in one hand while she held the baby bottle in the other.

“What’s wrong? Did the cake not come?”

“No, it is already here and it is lovely. The chef did a wonderful job. Thank you for that,” she said, referring to the palace chef who loved creating sweet treats for the kids just as much as she loved preparing elaborate feasts for foreign heads of state. She was a master at her craft.

“I see the pink lemonade, what else is missing?”

“The clown,” Stacy said gravely.

“Oh, no! Where’s Ella?”

“Out with the flu. She started to get a headache this morning and I sent her home immediately before she touched any of the kids. The flu set in a few hours ago,” Stacy explained.

“Well, that doesn’t sound so awful,” Marabeth said optimistically. “Well, I’m sure it is terrible for Ella, but at least none of the children were infected, hopefully.” “Yes, but who will step into the clown suit? We don’t have any extras now, with Clara and Tiffany gone as well.”

Marabeth picked up the clown suit that was hanging on the back of the door. She held it up to herself. “What do you think? Will it fit?” she asked, smiling at the possibility.

Stacy was horrified. “No, your highness. You can’t dress up as a clown!”

“Why not? The kids have been told to expect a clown, there’s no one else, so I’ll fill in.”

“No. Absolutely not.”

“Why not?”

“What would the Queen say? Not to mention your father?”

Marabeth bit her lip. Her mother and father would be horrified to know that she dressed up in a clown suit with white makeup and hearts on her cheeks. “We won’t tell them, will we?” Marabeth said, smiling at the idea of being in disguise, if only for a few minutes.

“No,” Stacy said and shook her head. “We’ll just tell the kids that the clown got sick and will visit another day. They’ll still be excited about the cake and lemonade,” she said and started walking back to the nursery with her little bundle still happily drinking from the bottle.

Marabeth ignored Stacy’s tone of doom. She took the clown suit and heart shaped, giant shoes from the back of the door and headed into the small bathroom. Marabeth quickly changed into the suit, having to take off all her clothes underneath to get the suit to fit properly. The wig was a slight issue since she had to pack all her hair underneath. It was a stretch, but eventually, she was able to hide all evidence of her naturally red locks underneath the bright red wig. The white makeup quickly and effectively covered all her face and she made credible hearts on each cheek with the red. She then drew a big happy smile on her lips and highlighted her eyes with blue circles. Stepping back to survey her image in the small mirror, she felt a giggle well up within her. She felt like a clown, she realized. It was a wonderful feeling.

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